Shippers’ Council recovers N5.4bn from vessels’ demurrage through PSTT
Prepares to resume offensive against extortionists on port access roads
By Edu Abade,
The Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) domiciled under the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has disclosed that it has saved the nation’s economy about N5.4 billion ($12,350 million) from average vessels’ demurrage between 2021 and 2022.
National Coordinator of the PSTT, Comrade Moses Fadipe, stated this at the enlarged meeting of the Presidential Port Standing Task Team (PPSTT) in Lagos, just as the PSTT lamented that some of the over 75 extortion points, which where earlier dismantled along the port corridor, were beginning to return gradually.
The task team, however, vowed to resume its onslaught against the extortion points, some of which were mounted by the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Nigeria Police and hoodlums from various local government areas around the Port.
Speaking on vessel demurrage, Fadipe, who said the amount represented an average of $20,000 per vessel demurrage daily, attributed the feat to interventions of the PSTT in restoring order along the port corridors and ports logistics ring, noting that through the interventions of the PSTT, over 85 per cent of vessels that came through the nation’s ports and terminals left without incidents in 2021.
“Some others are drastic reduction in incidences of extortions by both state and non-state actors and freer movement of vehicles and persons along the ports’ logistics ring. Although revenue generation is not the primary concern of the task team, deterrence through fines is one of the tools through which we were able to record our successes of Operation Free the Port Corridors. In the process, about N1.023 million accrued to the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) through fines,” he said.
Fadipe maintained that the activities of the task team was a positive barometer in terms of showing the team’s contributions to the actualisation of the objectives of Executive Order 1 on ease of doing business in Nigeria as enshrined in the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM).
He, however, expressed optimism that the successes would be sustained with good strategies of consolidation aimed at surpassing the previous gains, pointing out that their achievements did not come without occasional hazards, such as assaults on personnel of the task team, which were carried out by private operators and some senior government officials.
He noted that their operation was an offshoot of the implementation of the NPPM, which successful implementation should change the country’s corruption perception index of the Transparency International (TI).
On the issues of touting along the port corridor and other complaints, Fadipe assured the stakeholders that it would be addressed in less than 30 days starting from Monday, April 3, 2023, adding: “It is important to consciously partake in proffering effective and sustainable solutions in partnership like this. I am confident that today’s meeting whose objective is to review activities in 2022 and strategise for 2023, will come up with strong resolutions going forward.
Operation Free the Port Corridor is an action plan initiated by the Federal Government agencies and private stakeholders in the port with support of the Federal Ministry of Transportation to rid the port corridors of impediments and corrupt practices.
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“It was realised that stoppage of trucks along the port corridor constitute the biggest encumbrance to the free flow of traffic and this breeds extortion and corrupt practices,” he said.
Fadipe said the Federal Ministry of Transportation had on April 14, 2022 flagged off the exercise to remove all illegal checkpoint and shanties along the port corridor to eliminate traffic gridlock and corrupt practices and impediments to ease of doing business, noting: “On strategies for the year, we will not dwell on challenges, we focus on the best we can do to achieve what we can within the resources in our disposals. This is the spirit in which we will continue.”
Some of the stakeholders who commented during the meeting decried the activities of touts, non-state and state actors along the port corridors, urging the PSTT to look into it.
Responding, Mohammed Bala of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMTO), who appreciated the efforts of the task team, said the extortion checkpoints that were removed had returned on the port corridors.
“The touts have technically crossed to the inbound section of the port access road and causing so much havoc there. Truckers are profusely bleeding due to their activities. The touts are everywhere from Mile 2 to Second Gate,” he said.
On his part, Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Aloga Ogbogbo, said that the extortion was now taking place at odd hours.
Ogbogbo urged the task team to extend their operations to cover the odd hours that the touts operate.
Responding to the issues raised, Head, Legal Department of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Dennis Idoko, assured stakeholders that the commission would work within its power to meet the objectives of the team.
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